Sunday, September 20, 2009

Teachable Moments

There have been many "teachable moments" in and around my household lately. Broken down, this means there has been plenty of failure to go around for everybody. I believe, failure has gotten a bad rap. I have noticed, at this point in my life, that somewhere along the way failure has become the thing where we dare not speak it's name. No one wants to admit failure, discuss failure or even allow for failure to be a part of our current existence. I find this puzzling, considering without failure there can not be true success. To fail is to perish. Hogwash! To fail means that someone, somewhere has attempted to, at the very least, make the attempt to do something different. Now, that is a change I can get behind, even when it doesn't go smoothly and falls flat. I will concede that if and when failure comes into play, that one must go back and revisit all the details of the attempt in order to figure out what needs to be tweaked or scrapped in order to find the success. In other words, admission is the first step to recovery after a failure.
At some point someone will surely "invent" a rehab for non-admitting failures. It will be a lovely grass covered hill, where inventors, students, teachers, teenagers and parents can all gather and learn how to say, " I really screwed the pooch on this one." There will be a large group hug and they will break into small groups to discuss how to rejoin the masses as someone who made a mistake.
We can call it "My Bad, Rehab".
I believe that "teachable moments" are not just so we can learn that we are not perfect and make mistakes, but rather a moment in time where we learn a great lesson that we should be trying to teach others , so they don't have to go through the same trials. We are in sense being asked to responsible for others. Making a mistake and realizing it is merely one singular part of a very large equation. The second part is damage control and the third is to attempt to pass the lesson on to anyone who can benefit from it. The "teachable" part isn't supposed to be just for our benefit but to benefit others. My 82 year old accountant says this,"Experience is not the best teacher. You don't have to get shot by a gun to realize it can kill you." He should know, he is retired homicide detective from Cleveland, OH. When he first told me this I was a single mother, raising my 4 kids, right after their father passed away. His point to me was to tread carefully and gain the benefit from someones mistakes in order to reduce the odds of me making my own. It was a light bulb moment for me. I took my pain out the closet and went in search of anyone who had suffered from grief of any kind. I was on the hunt for wisdom. By opening myself up to the idea that getting it wrong was much easier than getting it right, I allowed for other women, mostly, to tell about their experiences as being grief stricken. I went from being completely alone, to grateful that things had not been ever so much worse. The gift was they were able to learn from their experiences and teach me how to avoid the same pitfalls.
Back to what is happening now in my life and the lives of the ones I love. I am watching mistakes being made. I am making some rather large mistakes myself. But I am also watching young adults in my life take responsibility for their own mishaps and reach out to try and help their peers from falling down a similar rabbit hole. They are actively passing on their own wisdom, freely, without judgement, in order to help anyone they can. It is a beautiful thing to watch, as these new grown ups rally around each other in their own community guarding their friends and family.
My mistake was thinking I hadn't been heard, so I did what I had always done. I became the hammer and looked at everything as if it were a nail. I decided that I would be heard or else. I ranted my one way conversation, not noticing the look on my children's faces as I squashed their opinions. I had witnessed some of their mistakes and thought I had the right to take control. I was WRONG!!!!!!! Once I settled my ass down, I actual heard them tell the lessons they had learned and that they were in the process of trying to make amends and find a new way. There have been things of recent time where my child made large mistakes and needed to be called out and I did just that. My intent at first was to be right. After a brief period, I knew that just being right wasn't going to cut it. I need to be open and understanding too. My child was failing and if I wasn't careful, the "teachable moment" was going to be that you are never forgiven for making a mistake. I am encouraging my child to tell his story to anyone who can learn from it. It is the only thing that takes a failure and turns it into an attempt to be better.

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